West News Wire: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) declared on Tuesday that she will not run for re-election to a sixth term and will leave the Senate at the end of 2024, launching an open primary campaign to succeed the pioneering lawmaker.
Feinstein released a statement in which she said, “I am announcing today I will not compete for reelection in 2024 but aim to accomplish as much for California as I can through the end of next year when my tenure ends.”
“I ran for office in 2018 on a number of issues that were important to California and the country: preventing and fighting wildfires, reducing the effects of the nation’s worst drought ever, addressing the homelessness crisis, and making sure all Americans have access to high-quality, affordable healthcare. Congress has enacted legislation on all of these topics over the past several years, but more needs to be done and I will continue these efforts,” she added.
Feinstein, 89, has been subject to critical reports in recent years over her mental acuity, but defended herself against those claims, citing the death of her husband, Richard Blum, last year as a chief distraction.
However, signs of her declining mental acuity were clear on Tuesday. After a reporter asked her what message she has for her Senate colleagues, Feinstein asked why she would have a message for them.
“About your not seeking re-election,” the reporter asked.
“Well, I haven’t made that decision. I haven’t released anything,” Feinstein said.
A Feinstein staffer then interjected, telling her that they put out a press release with her retirement statement.
“You put out the statement?” she asked, adding a few seconds later, “I should’ve known they put it out.”
“It is what it is. The time is come,” Feinstein continued.
The five-term senator is a groundbreaking woman in American political history.
She, along with former Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), was the first woman elected to the Senate from the Golden State. She is also the longest-serving woman in the history of the Senate, having served atop two committees Intelligence and Rules and authored the assault weapons ban in 1994.
Feinstein also holds the distinction of having won the most votes in any single Senate election in history, having raked in 7.8 million votes in 2012.
Prior to her Senate service, she was mayor of San Francisco for a decade.